How To… Take My Number

I am definitely more than just a number. Scratch that, I’m not a number at all. There’s so much more to me and my thrill-packed life than things like a National Insurance or NHS number. More than this stab at individuality, if I was indeed just a number then there’s absolutely no way that I would let you take it from me.

But perhaps you’re not really all that concerned about giving me a choice in this matter. You may well be in a set of circumstances rather more dire than mine and therefore hijacking my identity is the solution you’ve only just dared to start wanting. In which case, it would be really pretty silly of me to begin publishing tips of how to do so in a public forum.

On the other hand, maybe becoming utterly disenfranchised is the kick in the arse I need to… do something or other. Maybe just stop procrastinating in my priveleged middle class freedom and lead the world to revolution or whatever. This could be the best possible thing for both of. So step one of convincing me of the inherent excellent of this scheme has been pretty readily achieved.

All you now need to do is to either distract me with something shiny or controversial that I can get outraged at. Then you can whip my number from under my nose and skip away with it to a sunnier future for all. Alternatively, you could get it out of me by trickery or force if you’re not shy about delving into potential methods of torture. I believe in you, you’ve totally got this.

Oh, it was a ham-fisted attempt at a chat-up line? Wow, is my face red. I’m really not used to that sort of thing. Excuse me while I go and recover from the misunderstanding.

Take my number – Yungen


How To… Make a Scene

There are those in life who have an almost pathological aversion to calling attention to themselves. Such folk will never be decent actors or even leaders of humanity. However, they are also probably pretty damn good at hide and seek. Beware their abilities to remain unobtrusive at almost any cost, it could be of use to them in particular apocalyptic scenarios (after seeing A Quiet Place, a horror film where the monsters hunt by sound, I definitely didn’t have dreams about failing to keep schtum and perishing as a consequence).

On the other hand, there just so happen to be times in life when you’re going to need to make people aware of whatever’s going on with you. For example, last night we were in a pub we’re now never going to be returning to and it took absolutely bloody ages for our food to come. Even after a few bouts of prodding, there were delays with the mains, the puddings, even the drinks.

Now, I’m a vaguely functioning adult human. By all considerations, I ought to be able to stand up for myself and my various consumer rights. And yet it’s a rare thing that I manage it – often instead choosing to endure and put up with various strains of nonsense. Perhaps if we hadn’t received our order by closing time I might have timidly said something.

Luckily, I had a confident elder brother with me who was more than happy to savage the hapless waitresses with an aggressively reasonable smile. By the end of the night, we walked away with a free meal. And not just because we’re fairly certain that they lost our bill and didn’t want to admit it.

Essentially, if you ever suspect that you might have cause to make a scene, ensure that you’ve taken someone along with you who won’t balk from making it for you.

Make a scene – Sophie Ellis-Bextor

How To… Beam Me Up

Go on, create a brand new technology simply for the sake of satisfying the whims of a random blog post you found online. It’s the sole thing that’s driven all previous innovation. Including the iPhone, the meringue and the idea for vaccinations. Anyway, it’s hardly as if people aren’t generally aware of the concept of beaming people up. I bet that if you really put your mind to it, you’d be able to invent like the wind.

It’s a fairly basic premise: you’re going to have to somehow lift a woman (of strictly indeterminate weight. Just test it with a medium sized hippo and there’s no way it can fail) through the air without conventional methods such as wires. I don’t really know why you’re complaining, I’ve seen people do this sort of thing all the time in the movies.

Since you insist on being so helpless to the point of being positively kittenish, I suppose I’ll have to provide you with some pointers. This will of course mean that I will be legally entitled to a majority of the credit and profits for your amazing invention.

Oh, I don’t know, go and watch some films that have alien abductions to try and get into the correct frame of mind. Oh, and make sure you invest in a whole host of quality parts and machinery. No one ever achieved proper innovation by skimping on materials.

Now all you need to do is to transgress the basic laws of physics by devising the mechanics behind a tractor beam or some such. But make sure that you have patents pending because you know how competitive, not to mention cut-throat, the world of madcap inventing can be. You know what though, even if you do manage to push the bounds of reality, don’t beam me up. I’m not sure how well we’d get on.

Beam me up – P!nk

How To… Justify My Love

There’s a maths joke to be made there but I can’t remember the bulk of my A levels (last time I took the subject). I probably shouldn’t have called attention to it in the first place. However, I might just have piqued someone’s interest and set them down a path of learning that will culminate in a prestigious career in equations. Or perhaps I should stop waffling and get on with whatever point I had in mind when I originally picked this title out.

We all have what might be euphemistically termed as ‘guilty pleasures’ wherein we derive enjoyment from activities that others might be all too happy to sneer at. To that it is perfectly reasonable to say screw the rest of the world and their supposed standards, I’m going to have fun doing whatever I want. If you’re strong enough to do so then more power to you, you’re made of sterner stuff than the rest of us.

But I suppose I made the bold decision when I chose to encourage people to find ways to justify my love rather than theirs. It means I have to reveal my personal problematic predilections. Then, if I can provide reasonable justifications for my preferences, I can dispatch an army of keyboard warriors forth. A short journey into the future may even produce trends the likes of which you could never have predicted.

Now that I’ve whetted your appetites, the big reveal must surely be nigh. Will it be a slice of television that modern culture has painted in an increasingly unfortunate light? Is it something more current that revels in its pitiful production values or extremes of opinion? Maybe I have unpopular opinions when it comes to certain less than stellar examples of literature. Or foods that everyone simply hates. Well, it’s… nope, can’t justify it. Move along.

Justify my love – Madonna

How To… Walk a Thin Line

Because of some plot, the vast majority of millennials have pretty much been shafted. Of course, I, with my white middle class privilege, dual income household and actual inheritance, am basically fine. I can look out at the rest of my unfortunate generation from my comfortable two bed terrace (and I know plenty of people my age and thereabouts who have just about been able to scrape together the funds for a deposit but that anecdotal evidence doesn’t disprove the actual facts),

Anyhow, the latest proposal is to do away with living rooms for the avocado guzzlers. After all, when you’ve socked away your life savings for a place to call your own, why on earth would you need a space within it to actually live? Really, I think the little blighters are being altogether greedy in expecting to have somewhere to eat, shit and sleep at all, let alone being able to carry out those functions in separate rooms.

But maybe I’m being a worrisome NIMBY concerned that house prices might not be maintained. I really hope not (but that’s why I take pains to lay out my home-owning credentials, this isn’t exactly a terribly personal fight for me). Others would use this opportunity to bemoan ‘rampant immigration’ or similar things for the reasons why the housing market is spinning out of control. Because the NHS isn’t already struggling with the exodus of EU nurses who’ve taken the hint and swanned off to countries where they feel a little bit more welcome.

As usual, it’s a twisty complicated mess and no one’s coming up with especially practical solutions. Can Liz let out a few rooms in Buckingham Palace? What about a floating sky city? Are people being too precious about their space? Why should they have something that the generations before them have expected without really thinking about it?

Walk a thin line – Fleetwood Mac

How To… Go It Alone

I’m going to be all on my own at home for, like, over a week (because my other half has a much more exciting job than mine and is occasionally sent away for work trips. I’ve got to admit that I’m not quite as jealous as I usually am. It’s Arizona this time and I suspect I’d melt away into an unappetising puddle).

Sure, I’ll have human contact at work and I’ve got stuff planned for the weekends (I’m basically a social butterfly and you have no proof to deny it) but there are going to be several evenings when I’ll be rattling around the house on my own. Sure, it’s within my power to go outside and attempt to get to know the neighbours and whatnot but that’s hard. And more than a little awkward given that we’ve been living there for nearly two years and have thus far failed to learn any names.

On a similarly positive note, I could use the time alone to be more productive than usual. I could tappity tap at my desk and create beautiful prose that the world will practically weep at when it’s unveiled. And for all anyone else is going to know about it, that’s precisely what I’ll be cranking out. I certainly won’t devour dinner the moment I get home, retire to bed with a pint of ice cream and spend my hours watching old episodes of Bake Off.

The point is, when you’re completely on your own, you have the power as to what the rest of humanity knows about how you spend your time. Sure, there’s no way to fudge your internet history but there are ways of hiding that under the rug. You can choose not to share intimate details on social media. The removal of any supervision is a liberation I tells you and not just because I’m already terribly lonely.

Go it alone – Beck

How To… Say Yes to This

Say yes to what exactly? I’ll get onto that in a minute but first I need to rant about how my consent is patently not required. The world has made is abundantly clear to me that it’s going to carry on with a variety of different systems and activities of which I fundamentally do not approve. Even the more democratic arenas of existence don’t give my opinion as much weight as I really think they ought to.

But I still don’t like the fact that we have a monarchy. An unelected head of state determined by whose genitals they emerged from just doesn’t sit well with democratic ideals. Not so long ago I had an increasingly (on their part) drunken debate on the matter that went round in circles and neither of us emerged with our views remotely altered.

The Queen has no real power. So why does it matter who she is? Because she has the power to do all sorts of things. So shouldn’t there be some form of qualification or indeed some say from the public as to who it is? Do you want to bring in the likes of Nigel Farage? Come on, he’s never managed to be elected to anything that people were paying attention to. The public have proven that they can’t be trusted with a popular vote, see: Boaty McBoatface. They bring in tourism money etc.

There aren’t any simple answers, not really. But I still resent the imperialism being rubbed in my face. A woman has had a third child. This is a family largely funded by the taxpayer at a time when child allowance has been taken off regular families if they dare to have more than two babies. They’re perfectly nice people but the notion that it should be front page news is galling. I don’t know how to say yes to this but there’s no need because it’ll happen anyway.

Say yes to this – Jill Scott